I was thinking about some of the holiday well wishes that I got from various people over email recently. I had considered sending out holiday cards but I wanted to go for something more poignant, less time consuming, and just as heartfelt. And so I came up with The Dean’s List. Back in college, if you made the Dean’s List, then it meant that you had reached a high level of academic excellence. In this case, if you make my list, then it means you have made a high an impact on my life personally or professionally.
Once you read past this list, I also explain below it’s importance and I hope that it inspires you to do something similar. I hope you take on a similar resolution.
- Jennifer: You may be my oldest niece, but you’re like a little sister to me. You’ve come so far so fast and I’m proud to have seen you mature so much in these past few years. You’ve got alot going for you. Good luck with college. It’s my hope that before you graduate that you’ll understand that while books are good, people are better. People is what will power your career and your life. I’m really interested to see what aspect of a career in design that you’ll pick. I’m a bit bummed that you may not go into fashion as I was hoping to hobnob with all the models that you’d meet. It should your duties as a niece to do that for your uncle :). But hey, even a career in graphic design ain’t too shabby. Who knows, you just may be my future business partner. I can hear your mom groaning already.
- Leesa Barnes: Frack! Need I say more? In case I do, I’m just glad that we’ve kept in touch with each other after all this time. I appreciate how articulate you can be but yet still have a good ear for listening. Most can talk, but can’t really listen. Yet, you seem to have both and you are only a few years older than I. What’s your secret? And thanks for the funny business anecdotes that youâ€™ve shared with me over the year. I swear that the stuff you describe can only happen to you!
- Joenn Khoo: Remember that joke that I made about how beautiful your dress was and trying to unwrap it? I think of you in a similar respect. You always seem to pleasantly surprise me. The more I run into you, the more pleasantly surprised I am at learning something about you. Itâ€™s like trying to take the Christmas wrap off and figure out what’s inside of you. And when I get to the end, I am pleasantly surprised to find something else interesting about you. I feel like it’s Christmas everytime we meet.
- Maria Sipka: What can I say that the two of us haven’t articulated privately? It’s just amazing how two people from opposite ends of the world share a passion for community building. But when you think about it, it has little to do with the C word, does it? Because it really is all about people and the two of us enjoy doing that on varying levels. You’ve blown me away with your experiences, stories, and insight. You push forward without hesitation or fear. I am inspired. You share me your Sipka-isms and I will share you my Deanisms and we’ll have the making of a great book on people.
- Denise O’Berry: We’re both busy and don’t really “see” much of each other nowadays. How did you manage to be so concise and succinct in everything that you say? If you know the answer, can you go teach that to everyone else to be just as articulate? Itâ€™s such a precious gift to have.
- Scott Allen: Speaking of articulate. Iâ€™ve never known anyone to be pissed off at you. My wish in 2007 is that youâ€™ll manage to piss at least one person off so that the rest of us can feel secure about ourselves. Can you do that, Scott? Pretty please.
- Lien Nguyen: You truly live up to â€œsoftieâ€ status. Kind, compassionate, and understanding is how I have always known you. I know youâ€™re so busy saving lives as a doctor, but I know that every person you run into, be it a friend, stranger, patient, or otherwise, you will have an effect on them as you have on me. Any guy would be lucky to have you. By the way, youâ€™re very huggable too! Iâ€™m getting 2 of that shirt- one for you and one for me.
- Lin Chen: It hasnâ€™t been very long for the two of us. There is still a lot more to know and learn but I appreciate the time spent so far. I think you underestimate your abilities in certain areas and you just need someone to recognize those other great qualities that you have. I hope that doesnâ€™t sound cryptic. I see certain things in you that I really like and respect. And thanks for letting me use the photo below. I realize like the pic.
- Sunny Cervantes: You live up to your name in every regards. But you’re also strong and very loyal. I can’t think of a lot of people who embody those two traits. I appreciate your loyalty, friendship and all the laughs along the way. But I’m still funnier than you are. Keep on LOLing for me.
- Zhiyi Yu: You were my first impression of your company. You didn’t disappoint and I’m glad that I stuck around because that caused me to make some great connections. I’ll never forget the impression that you made on me.
- Kevin Barrett: Youthful and wise at the same time- great combination to have. I wish there was a chance that I can learn more from you but alas some things are beyond our control, eh? I still think you have a slight accent, though
- Krissy Jackson: Your spirit and resilience knows no bound. Your son has a great role model. I thank you for helping me build up the community that we have so far. I really am inspired by your personality and spirit. It is something that I can learn to shoot for. Don’t change, babe.
- Russ Howard: You talk about how you’ve learned so much from me, but you are far more kind and compassionate than I can be at times. You live up to your billing as a Texan. Don’t change those qualities about you. Be bold. Be confident. Let every step you take convey those qualities and you’ll do just fine.
- Lisa Ocone: I will always affectionately refer to you as my as my em. While some people may see as two very different people on the outside, I think we have more in common on the inside than meets the eye. And while it may be hard to believe, I’ve learned quite a bit from you. Ive learned your little secret in how you manage to make friends wherever you go. I’m not as good as you are yet, but I’ve learned a few tricks from you and I’m getting there. Thank you, em.
- Susan Ciccantelli: You are sooooo Sachi! That phrase should summarize it all. Thanks for the inspiration.
- Danielle Bailey: You were so instrumental in helping me get the business off the ground. I know you had a lot of personal issues to take care off and it was hard for us to keep in touch after that. But my door is always open to you. I enjoyed all the jokes that we shared. You are truly selfless not too bad for a redneck. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
- Krista Goon: If we lived closer to each other, you could almost be like my older sister. Like Danielle, I appreciate the help and advice that you’ve given me throughout this past year. Thanks for your patience in the project but most importantly, thanks for just being there.
- Bengt Wendel: I think there is a lot that I can learn from you. But for whatever reason, we really haven’t made the time to connect as of yet. When we do, it’s either that we’ll both learn a lot from each other or we’ll both end up facing off in an intelligent and heated debate every single time. Either way, they should both prove to be fun.
- Jared Martin: Thanks for letting me come on with the group. Didn’t I tell you that by December, we would kick some serious butt? 2007 is going to be exciting and I’m looking forward to continue building up this community of people we have so far.
- Des Walsh: As hard as a time that I give you and the fact that I’m far younger than you, I’m surprised you’ve never wanted to just strangle me. I’m glad you take my challenges and queries as just that and it is a testament to your patience and wisdom that you’ve gained through life. Despite the age gap, you’ve never treated me as a lesser of two equals. I’ve always enjoyed our talk on business and strategy. Cerebral and articulate is how I best describe you.
- Vandana Purohit: I’m telling you girl- this ain’t no coincidence that we are just running into each other again after a long hiatus. I’m just as excited about what 2007 holds for you as you are. I always say that networking is serendipitous in every respect and it’s my hope that this is another example of that level of serendipity.
- Carol Williams: To one of my “originals.” You took a chance on my idea. Not alot of people would’ve done so but that’s a testament to the faith that you have in people. It’s because of your faith in me that I was able to fine tune that big idea and make it profitable for others. Thanks for being the “guinea pig” that I needed at the time. Of course, based on the growth that I see in your business for the past year, I don’t think you have a problem with being my little guinea. Here’s to future guineas!
I came to understand that the greatest need for any human being is to feel wanted and connected. It’s what I refer to as the the longing for belonging. It took me such a long time to learn that lesson of people. Be it a girlfriend, business associate, friend, client, church member, or stranger on the street, I know there isn’t a person in this world that doesn’t want to feel validated and acknowledged.
This is the most important lesson that I’ve had to learn in my young life. We all contribute to each others success and failures. We are our own community. I realized just how important building communities and connections are now. Whether it’s a relationship with your spouse, your circle of friends, or your co-workers, we all want to feel like we belong and matter.
For this New Year, I resolve to building up this list. As Maria and I once said to each other; to meet more people and build more quality relationships. If you take care of that, then so many of the other typical resolutions will be taken care of on its own. Through more relationships, you’ll probably find someone who can motivate you to stop smoking or lose a few more pounds. You can probably find a business contact that can help you make more money or move up in your career. You can probably find someone to travel the world with.
As for 2006, I thank you for making me feel rich beyond words. You move me and I hope Iâ€™ve reciprocated in kind. This little list is my own way of acknowledging your contribution to my life and my purpose. When you see the beauty in others, they start to see it in you. I don’t know how to explain it, guys. But it’s like I see the world in a new way that I’ve never seen before.
I hope that this inspires you to reflect on your own circle of influence, continue building your list, and start paying it forward. Who has moved you? Who has contributed to your wealth? Are there people out there who you are totally grateful for running into? And most importantly, do they know about it?
By December 31st, 2007, this list will be three times bigger than what it is now.
And for those wondering- no, I didn’t have anything to drink while writing this. Believe it or not, I’m not always serious and I do have a soft side. What can I say, I’ve softened up quite a bit over the past year. I have you guys to blame for this. 😉
If you choose to duplicate this initiative, please drop me an email and I will be happy to include a link to your personal list. I hope to see more people do something in a similar fashion and make this part of their New Year Resolution.
With the right people in your life, all things are possible.
Update: To celebrate her most recent birthday, Leesa Barnes created a list of people who have influenced her life over the past year. Very nice and poignant. And I even got an honorable mention!